Hispanic councilwoman changes historic neighborhoods
By Jesse Garcia
Oak Cliff’s Delia Jasso has worked her whole life to enhance her community and, after May’s Dallas City Council elections, may continue doing so as the head of District 1
The communal devotion of Jasso, Dallas District 1 councilwoman, is not limited to teaching first-generation Americans the English language in her private school and serving on several community boards, including a seven-year stint on the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board. Since she took office in 2009, Jasso has parlayed that advocacy toward sprucing up Oak Cliff’s historic neighborhoods and attracting more businesses and jobs south of the Trinity River.
“Major changes to Bishop Arts District and Jefferson Boulevard have already begun,” Jasso said. “We are working on a plan for Jefferson Boulevard to attract more businesses. Bishop Arts needs to be able to sustain its success with the addition of more parking and housing.”
These are audacious goals, yes, but Jasso is ready to take on the challenge. The biggest obstacle to fulfill this mission, though, is yet to come — On May 14, Dallas voters will head to the polls to elect a new mayor and their respective city council members.
Since filing on Feb. 15, Jasso has been campaigning and raising money nonstop to continue representing District 1, one of Dallas’ most compact districts. District 1 encompasses the Bishop Arts District, Kidd Springs, Lake Cliff, Dells District, Elmwood, Hampton Hills, Las Haciendas, L.O. Daniel, Westhaven and parts of Winnetka Heights, along with the Mountain View College area and the Winnetka, Leila P. Cowart and Anson Jones elementary school neighborhoods.
Jasso’s tenure will serve as a reminder to young Latinas that anything is possible, if you work hard for it. Jasso is one of 1,858 Latina officers or part of one-third of all Latinos nationwide who serve or wield power to award multimillion-dollar contracts, change the look of a neighborhood or bring prosperity to communities, according to statistics by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Regardless of the elections’ results, the Skyline High School graduate and Southern Methodist University undergraduate has already paved way for the Hispanic community. She occupies a seat in a government body that affects the lives of approximately 1.3 million people in the ninth largest city in America; according to a U.S. Census Bureau July 2009 report. And, along with 14 fellow members on the city council, Jasso operates an annual $2.7 billion budget.
“For me, the best thing about being a Dallas City Council member is the ability to help my constituents,”Jasso said. “I am available seven days a week from morning to evening in order to fulfill my obligation to the people of District 1 and the City of Dallas.”
Infórmate DFW: It’s been two years since your election, what has changed in District 1 since focused 2009?
Delia Jasso: “Many people have been attesting to the fact that many things have changed in District 1 since 2009. To name a few, seven new restaurants have come to District 1 through Bishop Arts as well as the Tyler/Davis area with its small shops and art galleries. Additionally, we have opened new Latino grocery stores, such as el Rio Grande Supermarket on Westmoreland Rd.
The zoning to bring even more development was approved last August. The Oak Cliff Cultural Center opened in a brand new building on Jefferson next to the newly renovated Historic Texas Theatre. We have begun to work with the shop owners on Jefferson Blvd. to give more attention and highlight the quinceanera shops and our rich tradition. Bishop St. in District 1 will soon be under construction to bring the first bike lanes to Dallas. Dallas’ first modern streetcar was approved as a federal project with local help for over $35 million dollars. Renovation of the Kidd Springs Recreation Center will begin in March of this year. These are just a few of the things that have changed.”
Infórmate DFW: What are some major initiatives that you’ve undertaken to bring more business to the city?
Delia Jasso: “Major initiatives that I have undertaken to bring new business to the city are done as a council. Individual council members do not have the authority to bring large new businesses to Dallas without a council initiative and vote. I have, however, supported votes to bring large new businesses to Dallas. In my own district, I have worked hard to make it easier for new retail, restaurants and housing to come to North Oak Cliff.”
Infórmate DFW: The City of Dallas is going through major a budget shortfall. What are some services that will be scaled back?
Delia Jasso: “We are getting only preliminary numbers right now on the budget for next fiscal year, which starts in October. It is very premature right now to say what we will cut.”
Infórmate DFW: Will libraries and recreation centers remain open?
Delia Jasso: “Most of the southern sector council members are very protective of recreation centers and libraries to stay open, even if the hours are scaled back. Kidd Springs Recreation Center will close in March but only because the renovation will begin. The center will close for a year.”
Infórmate DFW: Will Dallas cut funding for police or fire departments?
Delia Jasso: “I don’t believe that the city council will vote to cut funding for police or fire departments.”
Infórmate DFW: You get to appoint people from your district to commissions and boards. What type of community members are you looking for?
Delia Jasso: “We appoint people who have the time and knowledge to serve on boards and commissions. I am always looking for people who have enough time to serve and be a constructive part of a board or commission.”
Infórmate DFW: You are running for re-election this May. What are your new goals for a second term?
Delia Jasso: “My goals for my second term are simple: continue the success of the many things I accomplished in my first term; continue to bring new development to District 1 to sustain that success; and continue to work hard, as I have in my first term, for the people in District 1 and the city of Dallas, with the initiatives I have started.”